+ Is Open Arms affiliated with a particular denomination or church?
No, Open Arms isn’t affiliated with any particular denomination or church. We are a faith-based, Christian organization that enjoys partnering with all demoninations and churches.
+ Does OAI work anywhere else besides Kenya?
In the past, Open Arms has sent medical teams throughout east Africa and India. Right now we are concentrating our efforts on Kenya. However, as the organization grows and develops we hope to once again take teams to countries in other parts of the world.
+ Who oversees your work in Kenya?
Our founders, David and Rachel Gallagher, live full-time at the Open Arms Village in Kenya. Along with a Kenyan Board of Directors, they oversee our Kenyan staff and day-to-day operations on the ground in Kenya. A U.S. Board of Directors and staff run our stateside office out of Portland, OR. We also have an office and board of directors in the United Kingdom.
+ Are you an orphanage? Are your children available for adoption?
No. Our Village is...a Village, with 9 homes that each house around 18 children, over seen by a set of loving Kenyan house-parents. Open Arms International has legal guardianship over all the beautiful children living at Open Arms Village, but they are not available for adoption. Our goal is to raise up a new generation of responsible, Godly leaders equipped with the skills and integrity to confront the difficult issues facing their people and effect lasting change within their country.
+ How do you get your children?
Many come to us from the District Children's Office, the local government agency that protect the wellbeing of Kenyan Children. Quite a few have been orphaned or abandoned on the streets of Eldoret, but not all of them are orphans. Occasionally a parent who is unable to care for their child will voluntarily sign over custody of their child to OAI. Every child has a different story.
+ Do your children stay connected with their biological family?
Yes! Open Arms strongly encourages children to stay in touch with any known family or tribe members. In fact, several times a year OAI hosts an event called Community Day. This is an important event where we welcome birth-parents, relatives, and previous guardians to enjoy time with the children.
+ How are your children named?
Our children each have a Christian (Western) name and a Kenyan name. Their Christian name is given to them by their parent(s) or caregiver(s), and their Kenyan name is given to them by their tribe. Most children are named prior to their arrival at Open Arms Village.
+ What are traditional Kenyan dishes?
Kenyan food is delicious! Most people eat rice, beans, chicken, and a flatbread called chapati. For dessert, they eat a doughnut-like cake called mandaze (men-daz-ee). One of the children’s favorite treats is “lollies,” or lollipops.
+ How do your children celebrate their birthdays?
With over 100 children, it is difficult to celebrate each birthday individually, so the Village has a monthly celebration.
+ What do you mean when you say the Village is self-sustaining?
Open Arms International strives to be a model of sustainability in our community. Our water and irrigation systems supply fresh water to our homes and gardens. We grow fruits and vegetables to supply our Village’s needs. When we have extra, we sell to the community. We also have cows, chickens, sheep, and goats to provide meat and dairy for our Village. Again, we sell excess to the community. Our Posho Mill allows us to grind our corn to flour for baking and feed for our livestock. Any profit made in these ventures go right back into our community programs.
+ If I am a child sponsor, what does that mean?
Each child living at Open Arms Village requires a total sponsorship of $275 per month. To make child sponsorship more affordable, we split the $275 into five(5) sponsorship opportunities at $55 per month. You can sponsor as many of those segments as you want.
+ What does my sponsorship cover?
A sponsorship provides everything a child needs: food, shelter, clothing, medical and dental care, medications, education, loving Kenyan house parents, and a wonderful family!
+ How do I correspond with my child?
Letters and small gifts can be sent to our office. Due to the corrupt government, all letters and items are hand-carried over to Kenya by our team members. As there is limited space, gifts are requested to be very small and flat.
+ Will my child know me? Will they write to me?
You will receive four updates about your child each year, along with two or three new photos so you can watch your child grow. You will also receive a report on your child’s academic progress as well as his/her development in home and social activities.
+ Can I visit my child?
Absolutely! OAI sends at least two teams to Kenya each year. Check out our Join a Mission Trip page for more information.
Team Member Questions
+ What types of skills or experience does a person need to be an effective member of a team?
No specific skills or experience are required, although certain skill sets and experience are helpful. People who don't have specific skill sets or experience can still be very effective on a team and can serve as assistants in both the medical clinics and in children's programs. There are also practical ways for people to assist with the ministry aspects of our trips. Areas where we do have need for specific skill sets and experience are:
- Medical Clinics - We need doctors, nurses, dentists, dental hygienists, paramedics, pharmacists, medical technicians, etc.
- Children's Programs - We need workers who have experience working with children as well as teachers.
- Pastors' Conferences - We need Pastors and Bible teachers and those who can teach Christian ministry leadership.
- Ministry Events - We need those gifted in ministry; those who can share their faith through drama, music, speaking and one-on-one counseling.
- Construction - We need experienced contractors and construction workers who can supervise and build new projects and who can oversee the renovation of other projects. We also need individuals experienced in water engineering to assist us in setting up filtration systems, digging wells and building water tanks.
+ How much does a trip cost?
Costs vary depending on the time of year and city of departure. For instance, summertime travel is typically more expensive than at other times of the year. Team members are responsible for raising funds to cover their airfare, accommodations, food, spending money, and other travel costs. The average cost for a typical trip is approximately $3,500-$4,000.
+ How do I sign up for a trip?
The first step is to decide which upcoming OAI trip you want to go on. Once you’ve decided, you can submit an application online with a $250 non refundable deposit. Upon approval, you will need to submit a special pass application and pay ($180). We recommend you submit your application and special pass as soon as possible. We will help you every step of the way - don't hesitate to ask questions!
+ What other requirements are there if I sign up for a trip?
If your application is approved, there are three required team meetings prior to your departure. These meetings are designed to provide important travel and cultural information and develop team relationships. Appropriate vaccinations and visa requirements will also be addressed during these meetings. In addition, your team will have one debriefing meeting after you return from Kenya.
+ Is there a minimum age for team members?
An applicant must be at least 18 years of age to go on an OAI trip without a parent or guardian. Individuals under the age of 18 may be eligible to go on an trip if OAI gives its approval AND if a parent or guardian accompanies the individual on the trip. We address all underage applicants on a case-by-case basis. OAI believes that it is important for teenagers to experience life in other countries, so please don’t hesitate to ask. There is no maximum age limit for prospective team members. If an individual is in good physical and mental health, age is not a concern.
+ What are the accommodations like?
Our guest houses are extremely comfortable with many Western amenities including running filtered water, flush toilets, comfortable beds, hot showers, and washing machines.
+ How long is a trip?
Trips are typically two weeks long. You will most likely spend 11 days in Kenya and 3 days traveling.
+ Can I stay longer than that?
For your first trip, we ask that you only go for two weeks. If you have been to the Village before and would like to stay longer, please contact the office for an extended stay application. You will be asked to share how you plan to spend your extra time.